I was going to title this post “Dunkirk‘s Last Stand” because in my heart of hearts, I believe that Chris Nolan‘s WWII epic is far superior to either Three Billboards or The Shape of Water, and that God would almost certainly step in and deliver a BAFTA win if he/she/it existed. And that’s not a dismissal of the grand visions of Martin McDonagh or Guillermo del Toro — just a statement of what I regard to be obvious artistic fact.
1:28 Pacific Update: Three Billboards has kicked gill-man’s ass to the ground by taking the BAFTA Best Film Award. What this means, I suspect, is that Martin McDonagh‘s hinterland drama will ride the BAFTA momentum into the Oscar voting, and will wind up winning the Academy Award for, at the very least, Best Original Screenplay. Which will leave the wildly overpraised Get Out high and dry. Three Billboards also won for Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Outstanding British Film and Best Original Screenplay.
We all know that Shape of Water is locked for the Best Picture and Best Director Oscar, and that’s fine. God is content with that outcome.
Sam Fuller‘s Hyman Roth was a little too warm, too kindly, too paternal. Lee Strasberg was a bit colder and snappier, and that’s what the part needed. Especially during that bare-chested “this is the business we’ve chosen!” speech in that Havana hotel room. Still, Fuller’s performance in this audition/read-through for The Godfather, Part II wasn’t half bad. (Posted six years ago by Heiko van der Scherm.)
I’m about to admit something that will make me sound clueless, but here goes. I’ve always liked the actor who played the big, bald, thorn-fingered genie in Michael Powell, Alexander Korda and William Cameron Menzies‘ The Thief of Bagdad (’40). And I’ve always liked the guy who played the dignified, well-mannered assistant to Ronald Colman‘s Michael Lightcap in George Stevens‘ The Talk of the Town (’42). But until this morning I never realized they were one and the same guy — Rex Ingram.
I posted this almost exactly a year ago: In no particular order, off the top of my head — the 28 Best Picture winners that have aged the best, still hold up, not necessarily the best of their respective years but entirely respectable: Spotlight (’15), Birdman (’14), 12 Years A Slave (’13), The Hurt Locker (’09), No Country For Old Men (’07), The Departed (’06), Schindler’s List (’93), The Silence of the Lambs (’91), Platoon (’86), Terms of Endearment (’83), Ordinary People (’80), Annie Hall (’77), The Godfather, Part II (’74), The Godfather (’72), The French Connection (’71), Patton (’70), Midnight Cowboy (’69), A Man For All Seasons (’66), Lawrence of Arabia (’62), The Apartment (’60), The Bridge on the River Kwai (’57), On The Waterfront (’54), From Here To Eternity (’53), All About Eve (’50), All The King’s Men (’49), The Best Years of Our Lives (’46), Casablanca (’43) and Moonlight (’16).
A little more than five years ago I wrote a piece called “Gazelles & Beefalos,” which was about odd couplings between beefy, wildebeest-sized guys and slender, attractive hotties. I happened to notice such a couple while eating at West Hollywood’s Astroburger, and I was going “what’s going on here?”
I’m mentioning this because there’s a line in Red Sparrow that applies to this dichotomy. Mary Louise Parker, playing an alcoholic with Washington connections who’s making a sale of secrets to the Russian baddies, says something to the effect of “Russian women are always so hot-looking but the Russian guys often look like toads,” or something close to that.
And the beefalos and gazelles observation is still valid. I saw another disparate couple like this (i.e., clearly together in a hetero sense) on the A train a couple of years ago in Brooklyn, and I just couldn’t believe it. She was almost Cindy Crawford and he was Meat Loaf.
I forgot to mention in yesterday’s Red Sparrow review that there’s an awful lot of smoking going on, which is more than a little weird in this day and age. Jennifer Lawrence‘s character, an ex-Bolshoi ballerina, smokes in three or four scenes, and Jeremy Irons‘ Russian intelligence character is always puffing away, which is odd for a guy in his late ’60s. A couple of other characters (including the devious “uncle” played by Matthias Schoenaerts?) also smoke. The question is why when almost no one smokes these days except for contrarians, teenagers, party people and life’s chronic losers — riffraff, low-lifes, bums, scuzzballs. A half-century ago smoking was semi-cool but today it’s either a sign of weakness or malevolence. Which is why Paolo Sorrentino had Jude Law‘s pontiff smoke in The Young Pope.
“Women like romcoms precisely because men do change. I’m not saying men act the way they do primarily because of movies, but they have been getting this message for a long time, that this is what women want. And it is what women want. But only from the men they want it from! Problem is, we don’t know which one we are.
“Tom Cruise barges uninvited into the home of the woman he’s hired and had sex with and says, ‘I’m not letting you get rid of me…how about that?’ Adorable. But if it was Ted Cruz, not so much.
“Love Actually is somehow a lot of people’s favorite movie, but if it was made today, it would have to be called Inappropriate Actually. It’s nothing but men hitting on their underlings…”
I’m no fan of Andrew Dosunmu‘s Where Is Kyra? (Great Point Media/Paladin, 4.6). After catching it 13 months ago during Sundance ’17, I called it “more or less a bust…a funereal quicksand piece about an unemployed middle-aged woman (Michelle Pfeiffer) in a terrible financial jam, and about a relationship she has with a fellow down-and-outer (Keifer Sutherland). It’s grade-A within its own realm — a carefully calibrated, well-acted gloomhead flick that feels like it’s happening inside a coffin or crypt. This is Dosunmu’s deliberate strategy, of course, but the end-of-the-road, my-life-is-over vibe is primarily manifested by the inky, mineshaft palette of dp Bradford Young — HE’s least favorite cinematographer by a country mile.”
This morning I read a 6.9 profile of MGM CEO Gary Barber by Deadline‘s Peter Bart (“A Resurgent MGM Builds...More »